It’s Time to Fix Florida’s Broken Assignment of Benefits Law
Florida homeowners are getting caught up in predatory home repair lawsuits that take advantage of the state’s flawed Assignment of Benefits (AOB), and Florida lawmakers need to fix the problem during this legislative session.
How Some Game the System Using AOB Law
In AOB abuse, personal injury lawyers team up with some unscrupulous home repair contractors who scheme to inflate home repair costs and file lawsuits seeking to recover excessive repair claims.
Here’s how it works. A home repair contractor tells a homeowner to transfer his or her insurance benefit and negotiating rights over to the contractor, claiming they’ll take care of filing the claim with the insurance company and save the homeowner the hassle – literally reassigning the benefits from their policy to the contractor. But in reality, this assignment of benefits takes away the homeowner’s control and opens the opportunity for the contractor to send inflated claims to the homeowner’s insurer. Oftentimes, this leads to a dispute between the insurer and policyholder.
When an insurer challenges the high liability claim for the repairs, a personal injury lawyer gets involved, filing a lawsuit seeking to force a settlement on the inflated claim. The personal injury lawyers benefit from the jacked-up claims because they take a percentage of the claims for their fees. The bigger the claims, the bigger the legal fees. Homeowners don’t benefit, though, as they ultimately pay for the lawsuit abuse through higher liability premiums that raise the cost of owning a home.
How Our Legislators Can Stop AOB Lawsuit Abuse
Important reform legislation that would protect consumers and help stop this abuse is before the Florida legislature. SB 596 and HB 1097 would help protect consumers through clear warnings and limits on AOB agreements. All AOB contracts would be required to include a clear, bold notice, informing consumers of potential risks involved in assigning benefits to a third party. Also, the types of rights and benefits that could be signed over in these contracts would be limited, and consumers could cancel such agreements within three days of then they signed them.
It’s Time for Florida’s Leaders to Protect Homeowners Against Lawsuit Greed
AOB repair lawsuit abuses can be stopped. All it takes is for our legislators to stand up against the personal injury lawyers and their allies who abuse the system – and help protect Florida homeowners. Personal injury lawyer have strong political influence in Florida, but that shouldn’t stop our state legislators from fixing bad laws to make our legal system fairer.
We as Florida citizens need to engage our elected officials and let them know they need to fix our broken legal system and make it fair for everyone, not just personal injury lawyers. It’s time to make meaningful change to Florida’s legal system, and reform of AOB lawsuit abuse is a good place to start.